Monthly Archives: March 2016

Tug-of-War

tug-o-warTug-of-War… The classic game of strength, teamwork, grit and for the inexperienced, rope burn. The game pits two teams against each other for dominance and bragging rights and the satisfaction of dragging the other side through the mud. It has been some time since I anchored the end of the rope but the thoughts bring back some fond memories of the many church picnics and tug-of war competitions I joined as a kid.

The Galatian people in some respects were participants in a sort of Tug-of-War when it came to the truth of the gospel. Remembering that Paul was writing to Christians, imagine if you can two ends or sides of the rope stretched over a line. Faith being on one side and works on the other, each pulling for your attention.  When we read through the letter to the Galatians Paul has some strong words for the people, “As we have already said, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse.” (Gal 1:9). Paul is saying to the people that there should be no contest, there is only one gospel anything else is “variant message” an “alien message” (1:6 MSG).

Paul continues throughout his letter to remind and teach the people that it is through faith in Christ that we are saved, not through the works of the law. He digs deep into the roots of their past and reminds them of the covenant (promise) given through Abraham, a promise of one who will come to redeem us and give us everlasting life through him. Take Paul’s concern for the Galatian people and fast forward generations and centuries to our day and age now, these same principles apply. There are many things in life today that pull for our attention, things that distract us from living fully in life by the spirit.  Like the people of Galatians, we need continual reminders that Christ is the center of the gospel message. When it comes to winning the game of Tug-of-War I am reminded of Romans 8:1 “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I want God on my team.

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“To Be Continued…”

tobecontinuedOne on my pet peeves is seeing these three words “to be continued” as they appear across the screen at the end of one of my favorite television shows. There is usually a good reason for it but it really irritates me. I think it has something to do with leaving me hanging on the edge of my seat, I need, well OK, I want resolve. I want to know what happens next. The unexpected pause in the story has to wait for another time.

There is a momentary pause, a “to be continued” when we reach the end of Luke’s Gospel before we get the continued story in Acts. If we read scripture as it is sequentially laid out in our bibles today, we read through John’s Gospel before Luke continues his account of Jesus’s life and mission. Luke’s introduction in Acts chapter one sets the scene for what will be the continued work of the Holy Spirit through the apostles.  Acts 1:1-2 reads:” I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen”. When I read these two short verses my attention is drawn to the word “began”.

I am reminded of the commonly used phrase “to get the ball rolling”. Luke’s Gospel, his account of the life of Christ and his ministry among us is the momentum that moves us to want to continue sharing the same good news that Jesus proclaimed. The “to be continued” in this sense becomes dual purpose; first, Luke continues his story and secondly, we like the apostles are called to move with and maintain the momentum of Christ’s work here on earth. The book of Acts gives us a clear picture of how this work is to be done, not on our own power but through the power of the Holy Spirit. The work that Christ began for us and in us will carry on as described in Philippians 1:6, we need to walk in confidence that He (Christ) will complete His work when he comes again.

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